Sermon Illustrations

On April 23rd, 1978, in a small seaside chapel in San Juan, La Union, in the Republic of the Philippines, my father, speaking the local dialect of Ilocano, baptized me, his son. He said I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. On that day, the heavens didn’t open, no dove flew down and lighted on my shoulder, no disembodied voice said, “this is my son, my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.” But on that day, I became not only my father’s child – but I became God’s adopted son as well.

You would think that this was an important day in my life. You might actually think that I would celebrate it annually. I should be able to tell you what day it was, how it happened, and who was there. I would think that too. That is, until I got a letter from the Concordia Historical Society, which keeps tabs on Lutheran pastors, asking me to fill out important dates like my birthday, the day of my ordination, and…oh yeah, my Baptism date.

Going through the form, I was stymied by the blank after baptism date. I knew it was in April. I was even pretty sure it was close to my dad’s birthday, April 22nd, but I couldn’t pin down the exact day until I had sent a text message to my mother who had to go look in a box somewhere in our basement. Without that record, I could have never said authoritatively, I was baptized in April 23rd, 1978.